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Nursing researcher

Nurse researcher icon on dark blue background with text Nurse researcher


The nurse researcher examines health-related issues, which may involve speaking to patients and their relatives, administering questionnaires and collecting blood samples for the purpose of particular studies.

The nurse researcher also undertakes many other tasks that are non-clinical but related to research, including preparing ethics applications, organising meetings with the research team, supervising other members of staff, data inputting and data analysis.

When the study is completed, the nurse researcher will be involved in analysing the data and writing up the findings in preparation of a research paper.

In the case of a stroke patient like Mr Zemlinksy, for example, the nurse researcher would record specific clinical data at specified times (perhaps 1 hour, 6 hours and 12 hours after being admitted to hospital). They may also assess the patient’s neurological status, take blood samples, administer questionnaires and undertake interviews with the patient and their family or carer.

Unlike purely scientific studies, this type of research allows the nurse to really understand how a condition affects every aspect of a patient’s life.'

Dr Gerry Lee, Senior Lecturer in Nursing


To become a nurse researcher, you would first need to qualify as a nurse by studying a nursing degree, which could be a three-year undergraduate nursing course (BSc).

You would then ideally need two years’ experience after qualifying in an acute setting (such as a hospital ward), have phlebotomy (blood-taking) skills, and be able to carry out a clinical assessment of patients.

Many research jobs will offer training and all nurse researchers need to undertake a Good Clinical Practice course to understand the rules and regulations around clinical research.

As well as these qualifications, nurse researchers need to be enthusiastic, well-organised and motivated, with good communication, note-taking and team-working skills. You should also be able to work autonomously at times, keen to learn new skills and willing to travel.

Career opportunities

There are many different opportunities for people working as nurse researchers, including:

  • working for large clinical trials in a variety of settings
  • working for drugs companies
  • becoming a full time academic and building your own research portfolio
  • getting involved in teaching other healthcare professionals and patients
  • working in the public health field, advising governments on health issues
  • working in low to middle income countries in organisations such as the World Health Organisation.

Top tip

If you’re interested in developing a career as a nurse researcher, try volunteering at your local hospital to get some useful experience. It might also be good to attend some university open days, as research is often included as part of those talks.

You can also find out more through social media: check out #whywedoresearch and follow @ResNurse on Twitter.

Find out more


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